If your work involves digital marketing, you’ll know the pace of change is rapid and relentless; no-one should expect 2019 to be any different. You’ll also know that sometimes subjects attract a lot of attention but turn out to be more hype than substance. Here’s a quick guide to what should get your immediate focus and what may be hot but over-hyped.
What needs your attention now?
1.Make your website more Google-friendly:
Mobile-friendliness is the one website priority you MUST tackle. This is not just because mobile web access has overtaken desktop but because Google’s ranking algorithm rates mobile optimisation very highly. The search giant introduced a ‘mobile first’ strategy in 2018 meaning any searches on a mobile device will principally be ranked according to mobile optimisation. You may think that because you’ve chosen a responsive design in WordPress, this is mobile optimisation sorted. In fact, default options WordPress selects, like ‘hamburger’ menus (small square boxes in the top nav with 3 lines in them), are poor mobile UX for sites with lots of content. When planning a site, you should budget for some mobile customisation.
Secondly, add an SSL Certificate to your site. This used to be mainly for e-commerce sites but Google now uses security as a ranking factor for all sites.
2. Data Strategy:
2018 was the year of GDPR and some pretty staggering data breaches. Data strategy has been thrust into the limelight like never before and GDPR has presented businesses with a golden opportunity and potential competitive advantage:
- Leaner but more targeted and engaged databases.
- Improved deliverability.
- More savvy consumers actively choosing what they want.
- Using accountability and transparency more actively in marketing messaging.
So take the bull by the horns in 2019 and stop contacting people who don’t actively want to hear from you.
3. Influencer Marketing:
Having 3rd parties endorse your product is not exactly new but digital media enable any organisation to find influential people in their sector to work with. With so many sources of information around, people attach significant value to authenticity.But how do you navigate the pitfalls of working with Influencers?
A. Do not work with people who buy followers! Ask a prospective influencer if they have ever bought followers and what percentage of their followers are real. There are plenty of tools for analysing followers and a professional influencer will want to be able to demonstrate theirs are real.
B. Research, research, research. Use your keywords and hashtags to find a ‘long list’ of maybe 5 or 6 appropriate influencers, then check their profiles regularly over the course of a week or two.
C. The most professional will use the hashags #ad, #sponsored, #spon, #paid or #partnership in their posts to make it clear when a commercial relationship exists.
D. Be absolutely clear about what you want from the relationship and detail the product or service of yours to be mentioned and in what context.
E. Think about the longer term. Ideally this should be the start of a relationship, not a messy one-night stand. How can you bring an influencer into other areas of your organisation? Product/service development? Customer service? Internal communications?
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI):
This may sound a little geeky and intimidating and it is a huge subject but you can actually take baby steps with AI now to improve the user experience on your website. Chatbots are a fairly basic type of AI which can answer simple questions for users on your site and enable you to provide a personalised service 24/7.
Many sites already have FAQs and these should be the basis for developing your chatbot, also look at your GA to understand where most visitors go on your site and what they look for. If you have site search, this data will also help. Your chatbot can ‘learn’ as people interact with it and further improve the service.
What’s not quite ready for prime time?
- Virtual reality:
Despite huge leaps forward in the technology and the motion capture software that should make the experience lifelike, VR is still something of an answer looking for a question.
Yes, its easy to imagine applications in sectors like travel, medicine, education and construction but VR has yet to move outside a core gaming constituency already comfortable with tech experimentation and inhabiting virtual worlds.
- Voice search:
The promise of voice search is powerful, more natural and effective search, leading to better search results without needing to type. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s voice assistant are the best-known examples of voice search but so far they are only ‘first stage’ voice search. This means that voice searching on a tablet or smartphone returns regular web pages which can then be viewed in the conventional way.
Devices using voice commands to play music and make calls are becoming increasingly common but the voice recognition technology is still far from perfect, making the user experience frustrating. There are also the potentially tricky issues using voice search in public places and voice responsive devices ‘listening’ to conversations people would rather they did not hear.
Currently generating an avalanche of news coverage, cryptocurrencies have sprung up as a means of exchange for people who can’t or don’t want to use conventional currency. The most famous of these is Bitcoin but there are many other options, some guarantee anonymity for users, some do not.
Some heavyweight experts are convinced cryptocurrencies are simply a bubble and their value will evaporate at some point but they show no sign of doing so yet, despite price volatility. In the last year, the ‘ICO’ (Initial Coin Offering) has emerged as a way of start-ups getting funding without having to use the traditional VC route. But, for the time being at least, cryptocurrency won’t be entering the mainstream.
Your time and attention are valuable and we hope this quick overview gives you a steer on where these valuable resources should go as we plunge into 2019.